Symptoms of brain damage due to anoxic encephalopathy include loss of consciousness and a persistent vegetative state in which a patient is unresponsive to stimulation. A patient who regains consciousness experiences symptoms ranging from short-term memory loss to lack of coordination. Some patients experience weakness in all their limbs. Symptoms depend on the extent of brain injury and the part of the brain where the injury occurs, explains BrainAndSpinalCord.org.
Short-term memory loss occurs due to damage to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that facilitates learning of new information and which is extremely sensitive to lack of oxygen. Patients tend to have a wobbly gait because they are unable to coordinate their steps and are unable to do common tasks, such as brushing their hair, states BrainAndSpinalCord.org. A patient has difficulty understanding common words or using them and is unable to process visual information. In rare cases, a patient experiences cortical blindness whereby the brain is unable to process visual information, leading to impaired vision despite the eyes being normal.
Anoxic encephalopathy also causes headaches and increases irritability as a patient’s personality changes. In some instance, patients experience hallucinations and depression and are unable to concentrate. Other symptoms include movement disorders, in which a patient experiences muscle spasms that cause rigidity or involuntary, jerky movements, according to BrainAndSpinalCord.org.